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they officiated and as their appointment had been of God, so a miraculous testimony was given of his approbation and acceptance of their service. Let us consider the subject under the four following heads.
I. The sacrifices offered.
II. The blessing pronounced.
III. The tokens of God's acceptance.
I. The text tells us that Aaron came down from offering the sin-offering, and the burntoffering, and peace-offerings. These further prescribed offerings so immediately succeeding those which had been offered at his consecration shews again, and still more strongly, the consciousness which even the holiest and most accepted persons ought to have of their own sinfulness. Those who are holy by office must know and confess that they are sinners by nature, even as others. Priests must be as sensible of this truth in their own case, as any of their people; and must rely as simply and wholly upon that one great sin-offering of Christ for their own personal pardon and the acceptance of their services, as they teach
their hearers to do for their own. And by the repetition of the burnt-offering, as well as the sin-offering, Aaron was taught, and all who serve in any office of the ministry are also taught, what entire devotedness of themselves to their holy vocation is required of them, and should be voluntarily given.
Moses had also commanded Aaron to say unto the people, "Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin-offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt-offering; also a bullock and a ram for peace-offerings, to sacrifice before the Lord; and a meat-offering mingled with oil.” The people also, as well as their priests, are again required to bring a sin-offering and a burnt-offering for themselves. Oh! let not our people think that the whole of religious service is to be done for them by the priest. They have their own part to bear in it. He leads the way in the holy service. He confesses sin, he prays to God, he offers praise, he expresses his belief in the great doctrines of the gospel; but they must do the same; they must often repeat the words in which
he leads their service; and I wish that this were done in a more audible voice than many use. It would show that they take a personal interest in the service. It would prove that they admired and felt what is prepared for them to say. Brethren, your salvation assuredly cannot be laid on the shoulders of your minister. You must attend to it yourselves. He may be instrumental in instructing, convincing, stirring up, and bringing you to God; but you are to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. As the people of Israel must bring their offering, as well as Aaron must bring his, so you must bring your spiritual sacrifices yourselves, and join with the officiating minister whenever you are expected to bear a part. Very much of the beauty and force of our liturgy is lost through this defect in your part of its worship, very much also of your own comfort and improvement, and very much of the honour which is due to God.
But besides being required to present the same offerings as Aaron, the Israelites had somewhat more to bring. They had also to
offer "a bullock and a ram for peace-offerings, to sacrifice before the Lord, and a meat-offering mingled with oil." As a part of the peace-offering, and the whole of the meatoffering, except the memorial of it which was burnt unto the Lord, belonged to the priests, and served for their subsistence while they were officiating, they were not required to offer these.
There are some duties which peculiarly belong to the priest, there are others which peculiarly belong to the people, and may God dispose and enable both to perform what is due to each other as fully and cheerfully, as they are generally ready to expect what is due to themselves. It is universally the business and duty of the one to preach the gospel; it is that of the other to provide that they who preach the gospel may live of the gospel.
II. I now pass to the second head proposed, namely, the blessing pronounced upon the people. First, Aaron blessed them. As soon as he had performed the whole duty of offering his own sacrifices and theirs, he "lifted up his hand toward the people, and
Then Moses and he went
together into the tabernacle of the congregation, for what purpose is not mentioned, but probably that Moses might show him how his services there should be performed, and again they came out, and joined together in blessing the people. In some suitable words they pronounced the pardon and peace of God unto them, and made known to them his acceptance of their offerings, and prayed for all temporal and spiritual blessings for them. This became afterwards a stated and solemn part of the priestly office, and the form of words in which the blessing was to be given is thus written down in the book of Numbers, "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, on this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, the Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."
It is impossible for us here not to think of that merciful and faithful high priest of ours,